Recording probe finds Grand Junction councilors blameless

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction):  Grand Junction’s city councilors have been cleared in an investigation by the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office in relation to the circumstances surrounding a June 20 executive session meeting that was not recorded.

Daily Sentinel Publisher Jay Seaton requested an investigation July 7 after the newspaper requested to listen to councilors’ taped recording.

City officials at the time said they thought the meeting was recorded, but the tape was blank for unknown reasons. Since the incident, the city has purchased a new recording device.

City councilors are required by law to record executive sessions, or closed-door meetings that they can have for a limited number of reasons, including to discuss personnel matters and to obtain legal advice. A judge can determine a public body must turn over tapes or a portion of the recordings if it is determined a meeting is held illegally.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger wrote in an 
Aug. 28 letter to the city that there “is no reasonable likelihood of proving any criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt” after conducting an investigation.

“It is my belief that no one involved did anything intentionally or knowingly wrong,” Hautzinger wrote. “The failure to record the session was a result of simple human error, likely abetted by the use of obsolete technology.”

Hautzinger said in the letter that he and Senior District
 Attorney Paralegal Tricia Watson interviewed each person who was physically present at the executive session. They also interviewed former City Manager Rich Englehart, who was the subject of the meeting.

They interviewed technical support personnel with For the Record LTD, the company that made the city’s recording device. They also worked with the machine in question, attempting to make recordings with it by replicating the events of the June 20 meeting.

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